On Friday night, I went up to bed late.
On the way, I made a quick stop at my desk, just to quickly check my email, and when I was done with that, I gathered up my phone, and some other bits and bobs I wanted to take upstairs with me, and headed for the door.
I’d almost reached it when the landline suddenly started ringing.
At half-past midnight.
Oh. My. God.
Now, if you’re a worrier – or if you’ve just recently watched The Ring, even – you’ll know exactly why this freaked me out. I mean, middle-of-the-night phonecalls NEVER bode well, do they? Which is why, as soon as the ringing started, I let out a small shriek of horror, and rushed to pick up the phone, hurting my foot on the plastic mat Terry’s chair sits on in the process. (That detail has absolutely nothing to do with this story, by the way, it just REALLY hurt. Seriously, Terry: FIX THAT THING. Anyway!)
Picking up the phone, I clutched it to my ear, already breathless with the horrified anticipation of whatever type of bad news – and it could only BE bad news – awaited me.
“HELLO?” I shouted, panic rising. “HELLO?”
Nothing. Well, ALMOST nothing – I could hear the faint echo of my own voice coming back at me, but that was it. So I shouted some more, working myself into a fine old state as I did so.
“HELLO?” I yelled, over and over. “HELLO? HELLO? WHO’S THERE? HELLO?”
At this point Terry, who’d been in the bathroom, getting ready for bed, appeared at the door, eyes wide with alarm.
“Terry!” I said, almost weeping by this point. “The phone rung! And there’s no one there! And it’s almost 1am, which means that whoever’s phoning us is obviously in the middle of some kind of emergency! Like, what’s probably happened is, they’ve been in a car accident, right? And now they’re lying there in the middle of the road… they just had the strength to dial our number, but now they can’t even speak, and OMG WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DOOOOO?!”
“Give me that,” said Terry, taking the phone and putting it to his ear. “Hello?” he said – LIKE I HADN’T TRIED THAT ALREADY. GOD.
Then he hung up and started dialling 1471. (Which, for the non-Brits among you, is the number you dial to find out who the last person who called you was.)
“You can’t do that!” I said, scandalised. “Whoever that was NEEDS us! They’re lying dying in the road, for God’s sake!”
And guys, I really believed that was probably what was happening. In my defence, there have been a few too many ‘bad-news-in-the-middle-of-the-night-phonecalls’ in my life, and now they freak me out so much that if you ever call me late at night, you better HOPE you have an emergency. Because if not, you will by the time I’m done yelling at you.
“I recognise this number,” said Terry, as the robotic voice read it out to him. “This is a number that calls here a lot.”
Well, that did it. We’ve had a huge amount of nuisance calls lately – mostly of the “We’re calling from the National Accident Bureau: we hear you’ve been in an accident” type. (Actually, we get so many of these that we’ve now started putting ‘Rubin’ on the phone to talk to them. It’s pretty funny, really, just… not in the middle of the night, you know?)
“THAT’S IT!” I yelled, storming off upstairs. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THESE NUISANCE CALLS! FIRST THING IN THE MORNING, I’M CALLING THE POLICE, AND I’M GOING TO…”
“Amber!” called Terry, unceremoniously interrupting my rant. “That number? That’s YOUR NUMBER, idiot.”
And yes, it was my number. As I picked up my phone from the desk and walked out of the room, I’d somehow hit one of the keys and basically pocket-dialled my own stupid self. That echo I’d heard? Had been my OWN VOICE COMING OUT OF MY IPHONE. I’d been standing there with one phone in my left hand and one in the right, with those two phones TALKING to each other. It was a case where the left hand LITERALLY didn’t know what the right hand was doing. And where the right hand totally freaked the left hand out.
On the plus side, it gave Terry a good laugh – well, once he’d stopped rolling his eyes at me, anyway. And I suppose it could’ve been worse: I mean, if I HAD been watching The Ring that night, I’m not sure I’d have lived to tell the tale…
(Aside: any time I mention having a land line, people tend to fall over with horror, and act like we’re some kind of relics from the last century: we have it because we have a Limited Company, which has to have a phone number associated with it, and we don’t want to give out our cellphone numbers. So now you know!)